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Mastery Maths at Joseph Turner

To develop the teaching of Mastery, Joseph Turner are working closely with the Maths Hub. From September 2022, we will be delivering Mastery Maths as a whole school approach. We have completed a considerable amount of research regarding Mastery Maths and it’s principles, in particular looking at mixed ability groupings. Evidence shows this is highly effective in moving all children’s learning forward.


If you would like to find out more about Mastery Maths and how this looks in your child’s classroom, please speak to the class teacher or Mrs Spence/Mrs Purcell.

Information is also available on



What is Mastery?

A mathematical concept or skill has been mastered when a child can show it in different ways, use mathematical language to explain their ideas and independently apply the concept to new problems in unfamiliar situations. Mastery is a journey and long-term goal, achieved through exploration, clarification, practice and application. At each stage of learning children should be able to demonstrate a deep, conceptual understanding of the topic and be able to build on this over time.


The key features of a mastery approach:

The class work together on the same topic in mixed ability groupings

The emphasis is on keeping the class together until specific concepts or skills are mastered and then moving on together. This does not mean that some children will be left behind or others not challenged. Differentiation is now achieved through a deeper understanding. In a traditional primary school maths lesson, children are put in different groups and given different content based on their anticipated ability. This means that from an early age children are classed as those who can and can’t “do maths”. Teaching maths for mastery is different because it offers all pupils access to the full maths curriculum. This inclusive approach which is supported by research, and its emphasis on promoting multiple methods of solving a problem, builds self-confidence and resilience in pupils.


Speedy teacher intervention to prevent gaps

Those children that have not met the expected outcomes or have gaps in their understanding, will be helped by receiving short, immediate extra time on maths, during the lesson or later in the day. This is a positive opportunity to consolidate their understanding.


Challenge is provided by going deeper not accelerating

For those children that have mastered the skill, concept or procedure they will be presented with higher order thinking activities, rather than accelerating through the curriculum.


Focused, rigorous and thorough teaching

Within Mastery, the idea is to focus on one small step at a time in a lesson, with an emphasis on the mathematical structures involved and the best way to represent these through models and images. Each small step is important as it builds towards deep understanding of a concept.


More time on teaching topics – depth and practice

The same topic is likely to have the same focus until the class has mastered the concept, skill or procedure being taught. This is particularly the case for number and calculations. Focus areas are being taught over a longer time with smaller steps of progress and time is for practice and depth, making the learning effective. 

Teaching for Mastery - The 5 Big Ideas

Representation and Structure

Representations such as objects and pictures are used in lessons expose the mathematical concepts being taught.


Mathematical Thinking

If taught ideas are to be understood deeply, they must not merely be passively received but must be thought about, reasoned with and discussed with others.



Varying the way a concept is initially presented to students, by giving examples that display a concept as well as those that don’t display it. Also, carefully varying practice questions so that mechanical repetition is avoided, and thinking is encouraged.



Quick and efficient recall of facts and procedures and the flexibility to move between different contexts and representations of mathematics.



Connecting new ideas to concepts that have already been understood, and ensuring that, once understood and mastered, new ideas are used again in next steps of learning, all steps being small steps.


Concrete, pictorial, abstract


Objects, pictures, words, numbers and symbols are everywhere. The mastery approach incorporates all of these to help children explore and demonstrate mathematical ideas, enrich their learning experience and deepen understanding. Together, these elements help cement knowledge so pupils truly understand what they’ve learnt. All pupils, when introduced to a key new concept, should have the opportunity to build competency in this topic by taking this approach. Pupils are encouraged to physically represent mathematical concepts. Objects and pictures are used to demonstrate and visualise abstract ideas, alongside numbers and symbols.


Concrete – children have the opportunity to use concrete objects and manipulate them to help them understand and explain what they are doing.


Pictorial – children then build on this concrete approach by using pictorial representations, which can then be used to reason and solve problems.


Abstract – with the foundations firmly laid, children can move to an abstract approach using numbers and key concepts with confidence.


Traditionally, Maths has been taught by memorising key facts and procedures, which tends to lead to superficial understanding that can easily be forgotten.

Children should be able to select which mathematical approach is most effective in different scenarios. All pupils can achieve in Maths! There is no such thing as a ‘Maths person’.